When Arjun and I got married last June, we were excited (and nervous) about consolidating our apartments in Atlanta and Baltimore, respectively. We had never looked for an apartment together, let alone shopped for furniture, bedding, and art – pieces that would define and hold the memories of our first year of marriage. I was excited to create spaces that spoke to my sense, and his sensibility. I knew the challenges would be many, considering the ultra feminine, glam-boho vibe of my Baltimore walk-up, and the mid-century modern, retro man-cave he’d created in Atlanta.
Ironically, the commonality that brings us together in the present is rooted in the past. Arjun and I love everything classic, vintage, and from bygone eras – pieces with history, like a rusted rivet he found by the old Atlanta train tracks, a ‘Mains’ ice cream can from Frederick, Maryland, his grandmother’s 80 year old brass coffee filter from Madras, a marble lotus plate found antiquing in Cochin, Kerala, and a pin-tucked cushioned vanity chair sold for a penny at a consignment store in Baltimore. Arjun leans toward natural fibers, wood grain, and leather, while I like opulent metals juxtaposed with cottage-style accents. Together, ‘hand-crafted comfort’ sums up our style.
We are nascent art collectors, seeking out original artwork by local artists in the countries we travel to. Between his family and mine, we are blessed with vintage photographs, maps, and paintings. On our honeymoon in Spain, we bought an oil painting from a gallery in Girona, a watercolor from a street artist near the Alhambra, and several color lithographs from an antique store in the Plaza Bib Rambla.
Including elements of our Indian heritage while giving due credit to the artisans and craftsmen who create such beauty is also important to us. We inherited the brass idols, vases, and lamps sprinkled throughout the house, as well as batik textiles, filigree-worked lanterns, vintage photographs, and carefully selected coffee table books (INDIA by Andreas H. Bitesnich and ‘Form of Beauty – The Krishna Art of B.G. Sharma’ are two of my favorites) that remind us of what we love, and miss.
When we initially moved to Atlanta, we lived in a charming rowhouse in Midtown, with hardwood floors, crown moulding, and decorative fireplaces. We thought we’d found the perfect apartment to suit our tastes. Due to unforseen circumstances however (read: crazy landlady), we were forced to move out of the apartment with a month’s notice. We chanced upon an industrial-style loft in West Midtown – virtually the polar opposite to the aesthetic we’d initially sought. Since we had so little time, we focused on the gorgeous natural light, panoramic view of Atlanta’s skyline, and the open concept kitchen/living room. I was so worried our furniture wouldn’t suit our new surroundings, and give us the warmth and coziness we wanted.
My challenge was to create cosy spaces throughout the apartment with our cottage-style accents that were both decorative and functional, while capitalizing on the industrial-hip vibe of the space. We repainted the walls with buttercup yellow, artistic taupe, sand-dollar beige, and chocolate brown (Sherman Williams) to give us a palette on which to showcase our art, mirrors, and pictures. Instead of feeling cold and modern, the natural textures in the concrete mold gracefully with the rest of our pieces.
I’m always on the lookout for something that will add beauty, history, and character to our home. I love mixing metals, woods, textures, and hues together to create an experience in a particular space. For example in our reading nook, we have rattan chairs from IKEA with green raw-silk cushions, an old watering can vase next to a brass lamp with vintage floral lamp shade, and a painted wooden oar that reminds us of our favorite hill station lake in Kodaikanal, India. The butternut squash antique table and [seemingly] matching wall shelf were bought in Baltimore and Atlanta respectively, creating the sea-side cottage feel we were going for. Prince Edward Island meets Berkeley, with a pinch of colonial India. Each piece brings a different tale, which fills our house with memories and stories that keep evolving with our own travels and experiences.
Antique stores, flea markets, and design boutiques are my favorite weekend and road trip pit stops, while Etsy, OpenSky, ProjectBly and One Kings Lane are some of my favorite online bazaars. I sometimes imagine our home as a little caravan, filled with an eclectic array of funky (but functional) items that we choose – or that choose us – on our curious journeys around the world. They bring a sense of wonder and adventure to our home, enthrall us with their great stories, and as always, leave us feeling a little nostalgic.